Almost half of hate crime victims did not report it, an investigation into the issue has found.
Two hundred hate crime surveys were sent to various groups that support victims across Hartlepool as part of a council-led investigation.
Of the people who were subjected to abuse because of their race, sexual orientation or disability, 47 per cent said they did not report it.
Although overall hate crimes and incidents was down in Hartlepool by 14 per cent between September 2013 and 2014, councillors say reporting levels remain a significant issue.
Sarah Lewis, a Lesbian Gay Bi Transgender (LGBT) development worker for Hart Gables, in Hartlepool, said: “Hate crime can have a massive effect on the victim. It clouds their identity and they don’t want to go out and be themselves.
“It is really important people do report it. People should not think that hate crimes don’t happen because the numbers are down, because they do.”
It is really important people do report itSarah Lewis, Hart Gables
The review, spearheaded by the council’s Audit and Governance Committee has now been completed and a range of recommendations will be presented to the Safer Hartlepool Partnership in September.
Groups including Hart Gables, Hartlepool’s Salaam Community Centre, Chinese Association and Special Needs Support Group were among those who contributed to the study.
Out of 101 incidents and crime, the vast majority were based on race.
The final report said small business operators, particularly those who work at night, were subject to drunken racial abuse.
A report by officer Joan Stevens said: “Tensions within communities have been noticeable recently following external international events, it being noticeable that women from black and ethnic minority groups are feeling more vulnerable in their communities.”
Recommendations include raising awareness about hate crime and the support available including working with small businesses who open at night.
Another is for police training to be extended to specials and PCSOs.